President Rodrigo Duterte has decided not to extend martial law in Mindanao after it expires on the last day of the year, based on the unanimous recommendation of defense and security advisers, the Palace said Tuesday.
President Duterte made the decision following the “weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion, as a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders, as well as the decrease in the crime index,“ Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
He also said the Palace is confident in the capability of security forces to maintain peace and security without extending martial law in Mindanao.
“The people of Mindanao are assured that any incipient major threat in the region would be nipped in the bud,” Panelo said.
This decision of the President shows how he responds to the situation on the ground, the Palace official added.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 after the Maute terrorist group overran Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Even after the city was liberated on Oct. 17, 2017, the Duterte sought two extensions: in 2018 and until the end of 2019.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. earlier said they were no longer inclined to recommend another extension of martial rule in Mindanao.
Instead, they called for a tougher anti-terrorism law and amendment of the Human Security Act, saying this would be a “better arrangement than martial law” and would “give some teeth” to the country’s law enforcement.
Two lawmakers on Tuesday welcomed the Palace’s announcement that Duterte will no longer extend martial law in Mindanao.
Representatives Alfredo Garbin of Ako Bicol Party-list group and Lawrence Fortun of Agusan del Norte applauded the decision of the President.
Garbin, vice chairman of the House committee on justice, described the President’s decision as “wise and compassionate.”
“But I ask the President to please wipe out all the warlords, the private armies, and the small pockets of terrorist elements that hide in some corners of Mindanao,” Garbin said.
Garbin added, “It is time to end the proliferation of guns and explosives in Mindanao. Please end this scourge that keeps Mindanao’s economy from taking off. “
Fortun, a lawyer, said he is hoping that “the remaining pockets of extremist, communist, warlord lawlessness, and private armies in particular areas will be squelched for good because their terror activities continue to occasionally disrupt peaceful citizens’ lives, prevent economic growth and ward away investors.”